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9 Jul, 2020 16:49

Kavanaugh & Gorsuch rule against Trump in Supreme Court tax returns case

Kavanaugh & Gorsuch rule against Trump in Supreme Court tax returns case

Trump’s hotly-pursued tax returns may see the light of day, after the Supreme Court ruled that his financial records can be handed over to a New York grand jury in a decision supported by three conservative justices.

In a 7-2 ruling, the court found that a subpoena issued to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars LLP, can be enforced, and dismissed Trump’s lawyers’ argument that he is immune from criminal proceedings. The request was part of a criminal investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, and years of Trump’s tax returns will now have to be turned over to a grand jury. 

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who were both nominated to the Supreme Court by Trump, along with another conservative, John Roberts, sided with their four liberal colleagues in the ruling.

The decision itself and the position taken by the president’s appointees prompted glee from Democrats at the turnaround.

Democrats have been insisting on seeing Trump’s tax returns since the 2016 campaign, and even floated the idea that this should be a condition for his opponent Joe Biden to participate in the debates. But the documents so far will only be available to the jury, and it’s unclear if the public would see them before the November election.

The Supreme Court also threw out related rulings allowing committees in the Democratic-led House of Representatives to obtain the president’s financial records, sending the issue back to lower courts. The committees had issued subpoenas to his accounting firm, Capital One bank and Deutsche Bank. 

Trump was among those to react, tweeting that it was “all a political prosecution,” and that he will “have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York.” He pointed out that nothing happened to the “totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT.” 

The New York probe into Trump and his Trump Organization was sparked by allegations of hush payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had sexual relationships with him. Trump’s lawyers had argued that he was immune from criminal proceedings while president, and that a sitting president can’t be indicted or prosecuted. 

His legal team also argued that Congress did not have a valid purpose for going after his records, and that information in the documents would distract him from his duties and compromise his privacy. The House request was made after Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said the president had inflated and deflated assets on his financial statements so he could pay less real estate tax. 

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